Tekken has grown sillier as the years have gone by. It’s now filled with animals, wooden men and robots. And for every time the series has gotten a shade sillier, it’s grown a little bit fatter and more sluggish. Since day one, the Tekken team’s answer to everything has been more with no limit on the amount of stuff they’re prepared to throw at the series, and little quality control on what gets included. Tekken 6 increases the hotch-potch character count to a daunting 42 – close to besting even Marvel vs Capcom 2 –and that makes it all the more prohibitive.
Tekken recently recovered thanks to a brilliant PSP port of Tekken 5 and a cut-price PS3 release. Freshly revived, 6 was the perfect opportunity to build on that foundation but, unfortunately, it’s an opportunity wasted. The same old fight system works as well as it ever did – it’s the familiar mix of strategy and smarts buried beneath layers of complex execution-intensive combos. Tekken didn’t so much dump the simple elegance of its original fighting system long ago as it hide it behind things only the hardcore demanded, and as if it were on a mission to prove it’s real contender in the competitive world of fighting games, there’s now an even greater emphasis on stick-thrashing combo execution in Tekken 6. New moves will bounce character off the floor for extended combos which will let a professional. Tekken player juggle an amateur’s health bar to fifty percent in just few helpless seconds.
Friendly old stalwarts like Law and blade-wielding Yoshimitsu have been re-imagined for the new generation; Yosh now fights with a fresh stance and Law moves very differently. It’s a shift which takes fan-favorites out of the hands of old time Tekken button mashers and places them firmly into advanced bracket. The sole concession to new players is a tool that’s equally useful for the best of the best. Range mode kicks in when your health is low, powering your strikes and making a weakened opponent dangerous. Like Street Fighter VI’s Ultra Combos, it’s built to ensure the weaker player can still be the aggressor but like Ultra Combos, it’s brutal and powerful system in expert hands that can be used to make the bouncy combos even more deadly.
There’s a fun fighter beneath Tekken’s endless layers of iteration, but while Street Fighter IV, Blazblue, and Virtue Fighter stripped features to make for a stronger core game, Tekken 6’sindiscriminate additions are changes for change’s sake. Tekken 6 even marks the return of the despised Tekken Force mode – Namco’s worthless take on the scrolling beat-em-up, resurrected at no small expense with lengthy cut sense, custom-built stages, weapons, and characters. It was awful in Tekken 3, abysmal in Tekken 4, and its return for number 6 is as welcome as a turd through your letterbox.